For unto us…

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

For unto us a child is born...not always what we expected, not always what we hoped for, not always 100% a bundle of joy. Sometimes not “normal”.

Two nights ago,my family and I were billeted in a seaside hotel in preparation for a cross over from Bulalacao, Mindoro to Caticlan, Aklan. It’s all part of a half-planned six destination inter-island road trip of three families on one van. After a long and circuitous drive, we were all looking for a good night’s rest, especially me since I seemed to have another unpleasant bout of COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The girls beat me to the punch as they immediately put on their earphones and were fast asleep in minutes.

Lucky them – tough for me as we were on the bottom part of a two-floor unit and judging from the thumping of feet from above, the occupants above us apparently had a child who was wide awake at 9:30 p.m. So I did what the girls did and put on a pair of earphones, but to no avail. The child above decided he was going to train for the Tokyo Olympics next year! He simply kept running and running, faster and faster. I figured that at the rate he was going, it would be 10 or 20 minutes and he would be tired out. Just then, the Super Tyke upstairs decided he would compete in the OCR or Obstacle Course Race in four years. Not only was he running, he started jumping around like someone doing calisthenics on my head. Too bad that the only hotel in the area was a modern adaptation of container vans put on top of each other and built into a hotel. It was environmentally sound and all but it also meant that sound proofing could only go so far.

In the mean time, Super Tyke was now doing high jumps and body slams on the floor. It was 11 p.m. and while I may have sin in my life, I don’t think I deserved such suffering. So I calmly went to the front desk and asked the helpful young lady to pay the folks above us a visit and request that they quiet down their kid because we also needed to sleep. I returned to our room fully assured that things will quiet down. But instead, the hotel staff showed up at our door to tell me that nothing could be done about the child because the child was a PWD. I felt like Super Tyke himself or herself body slammed me! Those words hit me so strong that whatever hopes of sleeping I had went out to the sea!

I simply sat on a chair and reflected on those words with Super Tyke providing the background music of thumping feet above. In moments when I lose power to affect or control my circumstance, I have developed the habit of going into prayer. I confess that I initially prayed for God to make the child tired and sleepy so we could all get some sleep, especially his or her parents. What started out as a “selfish” or self-serving prayer soon turned into a God-led reflection on the PWD child and the parents. I soon forgot about the child and my loss of sleep. I started thinking of what the parents must have to go through every day and every night to put up with the child born unto them: not what they expected, not what they hoped for, and not “normal”. Here I was yearning and praying for sleep, while there they were probably exhausted from endless nights of marathons and body slam performances of Super Tyke at night, made even more sleepless as they thought of their child’s uncertain future.That reality by itself was something painful for me to think about so I started to pray for them, really prayed hard for their comfort and to find joy in their circumstance.

Then Super Tyke started his cheer leading routine. But I was neither annoyed or irritated by this rolling thunder with two feet. The good Lord made me consider his situation. Here was a child who did not have a normal “on and off” switch. His brain was “in control,” not him. His mind drove his body to extremes that would totally exhaust a normal child. His body clock was totally off. Here was a child who could not roam around on his own, who needed constant supervision because he would be a danger to himself. Whether he had extreme ADHD or Autism, I could not tell. But at three in the morning I sat in the dark praying for him and thanking him because in the darkness, I realized that I had a life changing experience; my comfort and sleep no longer mattered. That night, all the running, calisthenics, high jumps, body slams and cheer leading routine from above banged and slammed my compassion into shape. The child born unexpected and imperfect brought out my weakness and imperfection and helped me to be more compassionate for two parents I never met, never saw. Super Tyke made me realize the transforming power of a special child if only we stop thinking of our “rights,” entitlement, and presumptions.

On this Christmas Day over 2000 years ago a child who had all the rights, the power and the privileges traded it all in obedience to God his father, our father, who traded “his child” because his compassion was greater than all our sins, past and present.

Thank you dear God for all the children born unto us. Merry Christ-Mas.

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